The ring was lost, there was no question about it.
"I just don't know, hon," she said in the hall after the girls had finally lost their battle with bedtime. "I've been through the bathroom several times since last night."
"So have I," he said. "I can't find it anywhere."
"I took it off to wash the girls' hair, and I put it on the counter -- right here -- next to the sink. I'm sure I had it on while I washed baby," she said, shaking out a baby towel.
"And I took baby right from you, so we know that it didn't get caught up in her things."
"Then I trimmed Eleanor's hair (why do I do these things myself?) and while I was doing that Julia ran around and jumped off the stool in front of the sink But I didn't hear anything fall, and I don't even remember if it was there when I was brushing their teeth."
"Well," he said, "it's not on the floor, and I looked in all the cabinets and put away everything on the counter. Were the girls in the office?"
They surveyed the mountain of laundry on the futon in the office.
"It's not the loss of the ring itself that bothers me, though I'm fond of it," he said as he took a stack of small pastel shirts from her and placed them in the basket along with the pile of dresses. "It just seems to symbolize the lack of control we have over our daily life."
"Like we're still just treading water, even after five years," she agreed. "I don't want it to be lost -- we picked it out together, and it's a nice ring. But what's more frustrating than losing it is the chaos around here." She turned over the last few clothes, then sighed. "You know, I suppose it's possible that the girls were in here and brought the ring in with them, but it's unlikely with a capital UN. It's not like them to run off with my ring -- I'd expect them to bring it to me. They've done that before."
"I had been thinking about buying one of those anniversary bands," he remarked, "but I don't think the finances are going to allow for that before Friday."
"No, no, of course," she replied. "You know, it's silly -- I used to never take it off even when I if I had to get it wet, remember, and then the pearl started falling off. So I considered the risk of losing the pearl greater than the risk of losing the ring itself."
"That doesn't hold up financially," he murmured from under the sink, "if you think about the cost of the ring compared to the cost of replacing the pearl. Nothing in the trap here -- I don't think it could even fit down the drain anyway."
"And nothing in the other side, so it's definitely not in the bathroom."
"I don't even remember if I was wearing it when I put away the leftovers down here," she said, scanning the island again. "And I've already cleaned off the counter here,"
"Ring holder in our bathroom?
"Already checked. And I put away the clean clothes in the laundry basket -- one of them anyway -- and put all the dirty laundry on our bedroom floor in the basket one item at a time."
She shook the trashcan in the girls' bathroom, and something glinted and clanked. Underneath the empty toilet paper holder and the wet diaper and the various wads of tissue she found the metal flower broken from a zipper on Julia's shirt.
"Yeah, I found that earlier," he called from the bedroom.
"I'm so sorry," she said. "I just don't know what happened to it. I can't even promise that I'd never take if off again if we do find it."
"No, of course, I wouldn't expect you to do that," he said. "Actually, that's kind of disgusting, if you think about it. What about grease? What about dirt?"
"And the irritating thing is that it could be lost forever, or it could turn up tomorrow or the next day. I even checked the ring box in your drawer on the off-chance that it might have found its way home."
"Like the dog in the end." They smiled.
"Well, good night, hon. Love you."
"Love you. Good night."